Medical construction remains strong despite economic downturn

Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Lee Smith, left, and J.R. Gean of Kiefner Bros. Inc. work Monday on Southeast Missouri Hospital's new Regional Cancer Center in Cape Girardeau. (Kit Doyle)

While the number of building permits issued in Cape Girardeau and Jackson has seen a 50 percent decline so far in 2009, construction of area medical facilities remains strong.

Cape Girardeau's two largest health-care providers are moving forward with plans to build new multimillion-dollar facilities.

Saint Francis Medical Center broke ground on its 180,000-square-foot Heart Hospital and Cancer Institute in July. Hospital president and chief executive officer Steven C. Bjelich said the project, funded largely through $75 million in bonds approved during a recent Cape Girardeau County Commission meeting, is on schedule to reach the completion deadline of summer 2011. Its parking deck is scheduled to be complete this July.

"The economic decline has not affected our construction of the Heart Hospital and Cancer Institute," Bjelich said.

The four-story, $84 million hospital addition will provide additional cardiac catheterization labs to provide relief for heart attack victims and more linear accelerators to expand radiation treatments for cancer. Most services now are housed in the existing hospital and off-campus sites such as Doctors Park off South Mount Auburn Road.

Construction continues Monday at the Saint Francis Medical Center campus in Cape Girardeau. (Kit Doyle)

Bjelich said the facility will help better serve patients in the region under one roof for treatment of cancer and heart disease.

Southeast Missouri Hospital spokesman Mark Bliss said its Regional Cancer Center is still expected to open by December 2010. A ground breaking took place in January on the $33 million facility adjacent to its west campus on Mount Auburn Road near Central High School. The two-level hospital will include a pharmacy, cafe, on-site lab, office space for physicians, resource library, pastoral care office, meeting rooms and educational and counseling services.

Technology will include high dose-rate internal radiation therapy, MRIs and a system for digital imaging. The building will also have an infusion center with chairs placed along a wall of windows that will give patient access to natural light while they are undergoing chemotherapy.

"The nature of cancer care is no longer hospital-based," said Southeast Missouri Hospital board chairman James P. Limbaugh. "This treatment center will give cancer patients a true home for their care in a comfortable, caring, patient-focused environment that features natural light and soothing touches of nature."

At Perry County Memorial Hospital in Perryville, Mo., spokeswoman Jessica Krauss said bids have been received for its largest expansion project to date. If approved by its board of directors Wednesday, the project would replace its patient care wing, surgical unit and care center. The project is being funded through present hospital revenue and new bond indentures.

"These replacements will make Perry County Memorial Hospital more patient-friendly, safe and efficient," Krauss said. "We've done other expansions in the past such as adding medical offices and an MRI unit but nothing like this. We're basically replacing half of the hospital."

The renovations, totaling 55,600 square feet, will allow for all-private-room care. Patients currently share some of the rooms on the wing.

Krauss said its new care center will include an air flow system that will further reduce patients' chance of infection. Also, its surgical unit will allow for patients to be wheeled out a side door. Patients presently must pass through other sections of the hospital after surgery.

"People who are in surgery don't want for everyone else to see them after they've had a procedure," Krauss said. "This now allows them to pass through unnoticed by the rest of the hospital patients."

Meanwhile, Cardiovascular Consultants in Cape Girardeau plans begin construction on its new 27,000-square-foot building on the site of the former K's Merchandise building soon after the general contractor is selected. The project had been originally scheduled to begin in March, with a completion date of February 2010. That was delayed until this month because management needed more time to meet with architects, office manager Lois Soellner said.

The move to the corner of Bloomfield Road and Broadview Street will more than double its current space of 12,100 square feet. The new building will also have 20 exam rooms and lots of windows to provide natural light.

"The Cardiovascular Consultants physicians and staff are looking forward to caring for our patients in the new building," Soellner said. "The facility will be cheerful and spacious with a workflow designed specifically for the patient."

bblackwell@semissourian.com

388-3628

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Pertinent addresses:

211 Saint Francis Drive, Cape Girardeau, MO

1701 Lacey Street, Cape Girardeau, MO

202 Hospital Lane, Perryville, MO

25 Doctors Park, Cape Girardeau, MO

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